Prayers for a Feverish Planet

Those Who Watch (2020) – Gunter Gaupp (United States)

In the last few years, my experience of the world has been colored by a dull but constant sense of climate change anxiety. That sense of dread is dramatically worsened whenever I encounter clips of news pundits actively spreading misinformation and openly mocking the efforts of environmentalists. Accordingly, Those Who Watch attempts to present four distinct perspectives in the spread of climate change denial through the lens of my own anxiety while also trying to critically examine my engagement with misinformation as a distraction from forward progress.

In the piece’s electronic accompaniment, voices of news anchors and billionaires who profit from fossil fuel consumption swirl in a cacophonous cloud of mischaracterizations and misquoted statistics. Meanwhile, the voices of scientists and activists like Wallace Broecker form the bedrock of the piece’s sonic landscape, distorted beyond understanding and only truly audible in moments of quiet sincerity. The soloist, then, serves as a mouthpiece for my anxiety as the piano stews in its own angst, screams into the void, and ignores a path to meaningful change.

Ann adds: I chose many pieces for this project, but Those Who Watch is consistently one of my favorites. It has a great groove, despite the anxiety that underlays the music. It reminds me a bit of Jakob TV’s piece The Body of Your Dreams, which also samples voices in the electronic track that accompanies the piano solo.

If you are interested in listening to some of the original clips from which the electronic track is derived, they can be heard here:

“Is Global Warming the Biggest Fraud in History?” Dan Pena


“Crossfire: Are the Solutions for Climate Change Just as Dangerous?” with Bill Nye

Gunter Gaupp

Gunter is a composer based in Memphis, TN, whose work combines interests in noise composition and genre music. His recent releases utilize folk melodies, chaotic textures, and improvisation to explore themes of interpersonal connection and accessibility.

In particular, his work looks to utilize visceral, relatable gestures along with familiar tonal languages and extended techniques in order to encourage meaningful connection in shared spaces. A recent partnership with Crosstown Arts in Memphis resulted in a performance project wherein the performers and audience were challenged to connect over a shared experience despite not sharing physical space. The resulting piece focused on the use of gestures centered around breath, heartbeat, and vocalization to encourage players to become more intimately aware of their physical
relationship to one another and extend a sense of physical vulnerability to an audience. Gunter served as a composer in residence at Crosstown Arts in Spring 2022 where he built upon the themes in this piece and worked toward the release of his debut album.

Gunter’s work has been recognized in calls for scores by TEMPO Ensemble, Liminal Space Ensemble, and New York Dance & Arts Innovations, and was recently featured in Boston New Music Initiative’s Living Music Summit. Recent premieres include collaborations with loadbang, Hypercube, Julius Quartet, Four Corners Ensemble, and Quijote Duo.